lexical distance
January 26, 2014, 2:16 pm
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Lexical Distance Network Among the Major Languages of Europe

Some observations from someone who has read woefully little history and knows only one and a half languages. Of the European languages there are three groupings that dominate: Germanic, Slavic and Romance: the northern low landers, the easterners and the Mediterranean; and several that are secondary: Finno-Ugric, Baltic, Celtic, Greek and Albanian. The secondary languages are either old empires that didn’t gain enough geographic or cultural influence (Greek, Hungarian) or groups that were isolated or pushed back by invasion and expansion (Baltic, Celtic).

English is Germanic because of its history of low land invasion but also tied closely to French / Romance because of the Norman invasion. We trace our western history back to the Greek and Roman Empires. The Roman is represented by the Romance group, a great swath that covers much of the north shore of the Mediterranean where the Empire dominated. The Greek is isolated, because its empire is older and didn’t extend as far geographically.

From Etymologikon blog by Teresa Elms

The original research data for the chart comes from K. Tyshchenko (1999), Metatheory of Linguistics. (Published in Russian.)

3 Comments so far
Leave a comment

Hey Peter… languages, and their origins are certainly fascinating. Thanks.

Comment by Pablo

Hi Pablo – you’re welcome! I agree. I learned a lot from this chart. Keep in touch!

Comment by Peter Rudd

Here’s another post on language –

Comment by Peter Rudd

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